When planting your garden spacing can be one of the hardest things to put into action. Not only do most plants follow different spacing guidelines, but when dealing with tiny seeds or plant starts it can be really easy to underestimate the size and space needed for mature plants.
But plant spacing in the garden is very important and how much room you do- or don’t- give your plants can mean the difference between an okay garden and a great one!
So let’s explore why garden spacing is so important, what it means, and I’ll even give you a handy vegetable plant spacing chart to help you keep it all straight!
Ultimate Guide to Garden Spacing for Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to garden spacing it’s not quite as simple as one measurement. There’s actually a lot of gray area when it comes to planting out in your garden. And in this guide I’ll give you the general guidelines for spacing your vegetables and tell you how you can maximize your space- and when you can ignore some of these guidelines altogether!
What Does Spacing Mean?
So first off, what do we mean when we say garden spacing? It means 2 things actually:
The space between each PLANT.
The space between each ROW.
Depending on the type of gardening you do- row, raised bed, square foot, or other- the recommended spacing may change.
Why is Garden Spacing Important?
As I mentioned, good spacing in the garden can mean the difference between a great garden, and a not-so-great one. So why is garden spacing so important?
First- and probably one of the most important reasons for good spacing- is that it helps prevent disease and keeps your crops healthier.
When your plants are crowded together they don’t get the airflow they need to dry after a rain or heavy dew. This moisture can lead to fungal infections in your plants, which then affects your harvest and health of the entire garden.
Things like late blight will be much more devastating if your crops are planted very close together.
Room for Roots and Growth
Your plants will also have enough room to spread their roots and grow to their full potential when there is proper spacing.
They won’t be competing for root space, water, soil nutrients, or sun if they have enough space.
Ease of Harvest
And finally, if you’ve ever tried to harvest in a garden that is crowded you know how hard it can be! It’s like a jungle and you end up stepping on plants and vines or missing ripe fruits because you just can’t access the plants easily.
Proper spacing makes it easier to reach all places in the garden, which means an easier time for you and no lost fruits!
Vegetable Plant Spacing Chart:
So what are the most commonly recommended vegetable plant spacing guidelines?
Use the following chart to help you correctly space the plants in your garden. Please note that if you are using raised beds (which are normally 4ft or less wide), then you won’t have to worry about the row spacing, only the space between crops.
And keep reading below for ways to maximize space and when you can get away with planting a little closer!
|Crop:||Spacing Between Crops||Spacing Between Rows|
|Amaranth||1-2 ft||1-2 ft|
|Arugula||3-4 inches||1-1.5 ft|
|Asparagus||12-18 inches||2-3 ft|
|Basil||12 inches||1.5-2 ft|
|Beans||2-6 inches||2 ft|
|Beets||3-4 inches||1-1.5 ft|
|Broccoli||12-18 inches||3 ft|
|Brussels Sprouts||24 inches||2-3 ft|
|Cabbage||9-12 inches||2-3 ft|
|Carrots||1-2 inches||12 inches|
|Cauliflower||18-24 inches||2-3 ft|
|Celery||12-18 inches||2 ft|
|Chard||6-12 inches||12-18 inches|
|Corn||12 inches||3 ft|
|Cucumber||12-24 inches||2 ft|
|Eggplant||18-24 inches||3 ft|
|Garlic||3-6 inches||12-18 inches|
|Kale||12-18 inches||2 ft|
|Kohlrabi||6 inches||12 inches|
|Leek||4-6 inches||12 inches|
|Lettuce- head||12 inches||12 inches|
|Lettuce– leaf||2-3 inches||6-12 inches|
|Melons||12-24 inches||4-6 ft|
|Okra||12 inches||3 ft|
|Onion||4-6 inches||12 inches|
|Peas||2-3 inches||2 ft|
|Peppers||12-18 inches||2 ft|
|Potatoes||12 inches||2-3 ft|
|Radish||1-4 inches||6 inches|
|Spinach||2-3 inches||12-18 inches|
|Summer Squash||24 inches||3-4 ft|
|Sweet Potatoes||12-18 inches||3-4 ft|
|Tomatillos||24-36 inches||3-4 ft|
|Tomatoes||24-36 inches||3-4 ft|
|Turnips||2-4 inches||12 inches|
|Winter Squash||24-36 inches||3-5 ft|
How to Increase Space in the Garden
So now that you know the average garden plant spacing guidelines, let’s talk about when they might now apply and how you can get more out of your garden space.
First up is growing vertically. Using things like stakes, trellises, and fencing can help you maximize your space by using the vertical space instead of the horizontal space.
This frees up soil space for growing smaller crops below or spacing the next row closer.
Vertical gardening is most beneficial for vining crops such as cucumbers, winter squash and peas.
Read my article on Vertical Gardening for more information.
If you have a traditional row garden, try planting double rows instead of single. Plant 2 rows of the same crop close together with a larger space between each double rows.
This works great because you can still easily harvest both sides of the double rows without stepping on your crops.
Double rows work great for things like beans, radishes, carrots, and other root crops.
Pruning can also help you keep your crops more manageable and help them to take up less space per plant.
Tomatoes especially can benefit from pruning. By removing the suckers and leaving just one main stem you can reduce the overall footprint of each plant by a lot.
Pinching growing tips off of melon, cucumber, or squash vines can also help keep them from taking over more space than you want.
There’s a ton of varieties out there that are meant for smaller gardens. Choose a compact, bush variety of squash instead of a sprawling one.
Choose determinate tomatoes over indeterminate.
See if you can find dwarf varieties of your favorite crops.
Square Foot Gardening
And finally, square foot gardening. With square foot gardening you can basically throw all general recommendations out the window because it has it’s own rules and recommendations for spacing.
Square foot gardening is much more intensive and crops are grown more closely together compared to raised bed or row gardens.
More Gardening Help: